An Assessment of “In God’s Name” on CBS

Well, when I heard there would be a program on CBS discussing the lives and views of twelve worldwide religious leaders, my interest was piqued. There were some good things as well as some unfavorable things I found with this program.

My first reaction upon hearing about the program was to ask, “I wonder who they got to represent Christianity?” I was curious because typically when this type of program is aired they pick some liberal who doesn’t even believe the Bible is true to represent Christianity; or else it is a Catholic or someone from another mainline denomination, someone who does not represent Evangelical Christianity. I was pleasantly surprised with how they dealt with Christianity. They showed four representatives across the spectrum – Pope Benedict XVI, obviously representing Catholicism; Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox church, representing Eastern Christianity; Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, representing the more liberal mainline denominations; and Dr. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention to represent Evangelical Christianity. I have to admit I chuckled at the fact that they chose a Baptist, (we are not Calvinists), but honestly Dr. Page is a good representative of the token Evangelical in America, and as such I applaud his being selected for this show. And overall I think he did a pretty good job in his representation of Christianity.

So one big positive I found with this program was that Christianity was accurately represented in its wide spectrum.

The second thing that I found positive with the program was the fact that the questions of faith in such a time as this were being raised. I was encouraged that the filmmakers were provoked to ask about pain and suffering, faith and ritual, and that these questions were provoked in the minds of the viewers. Such questions need to be asked.

Now the downside: Pluralism. A comment in the beginning of the program by the Dalai Llama epitomizes what I think was the purpose of such an examination, namely that what’s good for you and good for me may be different, just as one person likes spicy food and another likes bland. Such an assertion does not make logical sense when we are discussing truth. What is true is true absolutely, not just some of the time. If there is a God, he has an absolute nature. If there is salvation, there is a definite was to reach it.

I think the program was aimed at showing the “unity in diversity” of the different faiths without assessing the concept of what is actually true. I think it is fruitless to do such a study without asking this question. Unfortunately we live in a culture that does not question the above assertion by the Dalai Llama.

But the question must be asked, as Pontius Pilate asked Christ: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). And there is an absolute and definite answer. There has to be for it to be called Truth at all.

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